While the Chat Noir is closed, Spoken World Online continues every Tuesday.

Latest update on what’s happening (March 1st 2021): 

Spoken World Online continues. This open mic is weekly on Tuesdays, an online version of what we usually do in the Chat Noir, and is hosted by David Leo Sirois. It’s on Zoom. For more info or to join us, keep an eye on the events on our Facebook page or sign up for the mailing list (click on the blue stamp on the right hand side of this page).

AWOL writers’ group paused until happier times.

SpokenWord Paris is one pole of a nomadic tribe of people who love poetry, writing and song. A home for creatives and lost anglophones. We do an open mic night called SpokenWord every Monday at the Chat Noir and an allied writers’ workshop every Sunday. We do a literary journal called The Bastille and Tightrope Books published many of us in the book “Strangers in Paris.” Click on the blue stamp on the right to sign up to the mailing list.

Open mic/scène ouverte: Performance poetry. Lire vivant. Poésie sonore. Stand up. Monologue. Stories. Beat poetry. Spoken word. English. Français. Your own original texts. Old texts from Rimbaud to Dr Seuss, Beowulf to Gil Scott-Heron. Chacun a son mot à dire. Make the words come alive. Acoustic songs also welcome.

Poetry video clips on our instagram at spokenword_paris

SpokenWord Sounds
A taste of Monday nights at the Chat Noir, by Victor. Listen or download here.

Will resume when it’s safe to do so. Every Monday except August. Come to the Chat Noir, 76 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud 75011. Métro Parmentier/Couronnes. Sign up at 8pm in the bar. Poetics start from 8.30pm underground. More info here. Paris’ biggest and longest-running English open mic night, started in 2006. All languages welcome. Free entry. Exit one euro.

Check next week’s theme here. Themes are a suggestion to inspire you but you don’t have to follow them. Indeed, many people don’t.

AWOL writers’ workshop on pause until meeting in person is possible

AWOL normally takes place every Sunday evening, 6.30pm – 8.30pm at the Chat Noir (76 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011) but the Chat Noir is currently closed. We hope to resume when meeting in person is possible again. AWOL’s facebook page. Free. Bring your writing or just come and listen and join in the discussion. Hosted by Bruce Sherfield, Simon Millward, Thibaut Narme and Camille Adnot. Friendly and insightful and afterwards you’re welcome to come for a drink. In a previous incarnation this ran for 10 years as The Other Writers Group and AWOL continues that group’s ethos of giving invaluable insightful feedback and providing a supportive space to hone your writing craft. Plus community among writers. Click here for a more detailed description.

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Chat Noir closed.

Closure is temporary – all bars are closed as an anti-Covid measure.

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David Barnes’ poetry class

WICE have asked me to run my successful poetry class again,

Writing Poetry – Craft and Inspiration

starting 30th September.

This will be a hybrid class – you can attend either in person or online. That way we can run it successfully despite Covid, strikes or bad weather. You can attend any or all of the classes online, whether it’s just that you’re outside Paris or it’s because you need to self-isolate.

Course description:

A poet needs both something to write about and skill in writing. We will focus on these two themes so important in strong poetry – finding inspiration and mastering elements of craft. Each week we will do some writing in class and a homework task will be set so that we can share what we’ve written the following week. Teaching will cover how to write stronger poetry and where to find sources of inspiration. All levels of experience welcome.

I’m confident the class will thrive as it has in previous years – developing a strong sense of mutual support and community around the writing and sharing of poetry.

Maximum of 7 participants.

Dates and times:

It will be 3.30pm – 5.30pm every Wednesday for 6 weeks.

  • Sept 30th
  • Oct 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th
  • Nov 4th

Fees: €195 euros + WICE membership fee of €25/30/50

Staying safe:

In the classroom we’ll wear masks and be 1m apart. Everyone will have their own desk and chair and surfaces will be wiped down. If anyone develops symptoms that could be Covid then they can still attend online. Similarly if they have been in close contact with someone contagious.

About the teacher:

David Barnes is a British poet who ran a weekly writers’ workshop at Shakespeare & Company for a decade and organises and runs the open mike poetry night SpokenWord Paris, now in its 15th year. He is the Editor in Chief of The Bastille literary magazine and was co-editor of Strangers in Paris – New Writing Inspired by the City of Light (2011, Tightrope Books) which included work by such writers as Alice Notley, Jorie Graham and John Berger. His poetry has been published in various magazines. He is a teacher and psychotherapist.

In August he was the featured poet at Literary Lavatory, Obejvak, Prague.


Signing up for the course:

Register online here
or contact WICE and give the course code or name:

WS301 Writing Poetry – Craft and Inspiration

WICE: Where Internationals Connect in English
Tel 01 45 66 75 50
10 rue Tiphaine, 75015 Paris

Cheers all,
David Barnes

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SpokenWord in Paris Monday 21st September at the Place Louis Aragon

This week hosted by Sophia Lucia!

Meet at the Place Louis Aragon from 8pm.
It’s the western end of the Île Saint-Louis.
Open air poetry starts at 9pm.
Theme – Boredom
We may move to other locations nearby. So if you arrive and we’re not there, text +33 626901326
Bring your own drink.
Wear a mask and respect social distancing – otherwise the police may fine you 135 euros and close down the event.
We’ll probably wind up in a bar after the words have been said, the songs sung.
Cheers all,
David Barnes

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Last SpokenWord of the summer? Outdoors and offline Monday 31st August

Theme – Raw
Place – Place Louis Aragon (Western end of the Île Saint-Louis)
Day – Moon day, 31st August
Time – Gather there from 8pm. Poetics begin at 9pm.
More info – check the Facebook event

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SpokenWord in Paris – outdoors at the Place Louis Aragon in August

Monday Aug 10th – theme Hot & Cold
Monday Aug 17th – theme On the Road

Meet at the Place Louis Aragon from 8pm. It’s the western end of the Île Saint-Louis. Open air poetry starts at 9pm. If you can’t find us, text +33 626901326 Bring your own drink.

We’ll probably wind up in a bar after the words have been said, the songs sung.

Who was Louis Aragon?
Poet, surrealist, Communist, journalist and editor, novelist. Born in Paris in 1897, involved in Dada before founding the surrealist review Littérature with André Breton. Many of his poems were put to music and sung. He died in 1982.

The essentials

I love you by black paths
Like those who have no home
And who walk all night
Everywhere, exerting themselves
I write your name on all the walls
That my love won’t die with me
Let them be memory at my whisper
And proof of where I passed

Where I lost my human shadow
Where I mixed living and my dreams
Where I took your hand in my palm
And crossed your steps with my steps
So much that finally the time that rises
As well as a perfume, complete
The dawn of us whose wonder
Is that we will not see it

— from ”Je t’aime par les chemins noirs”


David (technical assistance) and Cesar (poetry) in July.

Here’s a poem he wrote in 1944 about his city:


Où fait-il bon même au coeur de l’orage
Où fait-il clair même au coeur de la nuit
L’air est alcool et le malheur courage
Carreaux cassés l’espoir encore y luit
Et les chansons montent des murs détruits

Jamais éteint renaissant de la braise
Perpétuel brûlot de la patrie
Du Point-du-Jour jusqu’au Père-Lachaise
Ce doux rosier au mois d’août refleuri
Gens de partout c’est le sang de Paris

Rien n’a l’éclat de Paris dans la poudre
Rien n’est si pur que son front d’insurgé
Rien n’est ni fort ni le feu ni la foudre
Que mon Paris défiant les dangers
Rien n’est si beau que ce Paris que j’ai

Rien ne m’a fait jamais battre le coeur
Rien ne m’a fait ainsi rire et pleurer
Comme ce cri de mon peuple vainqueur
Rien n’est si grand qu’un linceul déchiré
Paris Paris soi-même libéré

Louis Aragon, 1944

Cheers all,
David Barnes

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This week…

SpokenWord in Paris… open air and off-line… Monday July 13th

Spoken World Online… featuring Bill Strangmeyer… theme LIFETIMES… Tuesday July 14th


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An outdoor, open air SpokenWord in Paris this Monday. And a simultaneous Spoken World Online in cyberspace

And we’re back!
with an outdoor SpokenWord in Paris.

Gather at the Chat Noir from 8pm on Monday 6th July.
At 8.45pm we’ll set off for a secret open air, outdoors location nearby.
At 9pm the poetry starts!

Chat Noir address – 76 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011. Metro Parmentier or Couronnes.

The exact location of the SpokenWord will be posted here and here closer to the time.

Meanwhile in cyberspace…

Spoken World Online continues – theme: Stillness
An online Spoken Word for these strange times.
Now hosted by David Leo Sirois.
Sign up from 8pm.
Poetics begin 8.30pm.

Cheers all,
David Barnes

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Sharon Mesmer to Guest at Spoken World Online June 29th–Monday’s Theme: Healing

Sharon Mesmer‘s most recent poetry collection, Greetings from My Girlie Place (Bloof Books) was one of Entropy’s ”Best of 2015.” Her other collections are Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo,2008), The Virgin Formica (Hanging Loose, 2008), and Half Angel, Half Lunch (Hard Press, 1998). A chapbook, Vertigo Seeks Affinities, was published by Belladonna Press in 2006. Four poems appear in Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (second edition). She has also published several collections of short fiction, including Ma Vie á Yonago (Hachette, in French, 2005). She has had essays in the New York Times, New York Magazine, the Paris Review and the Brooklyn Rail. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches literature and creative writing at NYU and the New School.
An online Spoken Word for these strange times.
Thanks to a Zoom room provided by The University of the 3rd Horizon.

Sign up from 8pm.
Poetics begin 8.30pm

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Jeffrey “Big Homey” Banks to Guest at Spoken World Online June 29th–Monday’s Theme: Healing

104730080_10158569632248216_1872824160113520495_oJeffrey Banks is poetically known as “Big Homey”. He’s worked with notable people such as the late Fred “Rerun” Berry of What’s Happening!, Stellar Award-Winning Gospel Singer Maurette Brown Clark, GRAMMY-Nominated Soul Singer and Television Star Syleena Johnson, 2000 Olympic Gold-Winning NBA Legend Allan Houston, New Jack City Actor & Singer Christopher Williams, Gospel Trailblazer Dr. Bobby Jones and others. He’s been featured in national media such as ESSENCE Magazine, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, Radio-One Inc., the CBS Early Show and BLACK ENTERPRISE Magazine. Big Homey’s album, Exposed-The EP, is the poetic testimonial of the trials & victories of a Christian Believer. He’s had the opportunity to perform across the USA and has done numerous engagements on East Coast college campuses. He’s a nationally-recognized event planner who was named one of the “Top 40 under 40” American Meeting Planners of 2013 by Rejuvenate Magazine. He has been a grant writer since 2008 and has been awarded numerous grants. He was a 2018 finalist in Day Eight’s DC Poetry Project and is currently continuing a collaborative relationship with grants each party was awarded from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. He’s been published in short-run anthologies in conjunction with DC Public Libraries (2009) and the National Association for Poetry Therapy (2019). Most recently, he’s been a contributing writer to the online publication, DC Theatre Scene..
An online Spoken Word for these strange times.
Thanks to a Zoom room provided by The University of the 3rd Horizon.

Sign up from 8pm.
Poetics begin 8.30pm

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Dominique Christina to Guest at Spoken World Online Monday June 22nd–Monday’s Theme: Blood

Dominique Christina is an award-winning writer, performer, educator, and activist. She holds five national poetry slam titles in the three years she competed, including the 2014 & 2012 Women of the World Slam Champion and 2011 National Poetry Slam Champion. She is presently the only person to have won two Women of the World Poetry Championships. She is also the 2013 National Underground Poetry Individual Competition Champion (NUPIC), and 2013 Southern Fried Poetry Slam Champion. She is presently an actor/writer for the HBO series High Maintenance Season 2 and does branding for Under Armour’s #UnlikeAny campaign. Dominique Christina has performed and conducted workshops for hundreds of colleges/universities, schools, community art spaces, nonprofit organizations, and conferences across the country. She has opened for Cornel West, appeared in Season 3 of Verses and Flow on TV One, performed for the Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till families at the Shiloh Baptist Church, and was a keynote speaker at the Emerging Women Conference, TedxMSU Denver, the LOHAS Conference, and was invited to China to perform her poetry in Chengdu. Dominique’s fourth manuscript “Anarcha Speaks” won the National Poetry Series 2017 She is published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Published Books: The Bones, The Breaking The Balm: A Colored Girl’s Hymnal (Penmanship Books NY 2014), They Are All Me (Swimming With Elephants Publishing 2015), This is Woman’s Work (SoundsTrue Publishing Oct 2015). (Presently writing a Young Adult Book for Random House/Knopf Publishing).
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An online Spoken Word for these strange times.
Thanks to a Zoom room provided by The University of the 3rd Horizon.

Sign up from 8pm.
Poetics begin 8.30pm

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